It’s the four-letter-word of home ownership. But what exactly does it mean if an inspector has found it in your dream home? What are your options beyond simply moving on to the next house with a For Sale sign?
For this article, we’re going to assume you’ll want to stick with the house you’re interested in at least until you’re through inspection and cost-estimates.
We’ll also assume the owner is amenable to working with you as far as costs are concerned since finding another interested buyer for a house with mold may take quite a while.
First, some good news: all homes have some mold. It’s just a fact. In the showers, under the kitchen sinks, etc. In many cases, the mold is quite small and ineffectual. In others, not so much.
Cause and Effect
So, if an inspector has found some mold in your dream-home-to-be, first find out what’s causing it to grow. Was something spilled long ago? Is something leaking now? Is there too much humidity in a localized area?
Second, you’ll want to hire a trained mold tester to determine the type of mold, the extent of the spread, etc.
Get multiple estimates and thoroughly research both testing and removal businesses (they may not be the same). Online referral sites, family and friends, and business associates can all be great sources of information. Stick with licensed, independent testers since testers and removers who are part of a larger organization may have conflicts of interest.
It’s unfortunate, but mold removal is a hotbed of fraudulent activity either from outright scammers who aren’t qualified to do the work to capable professionals who can’t help padding the bill. So keep a weather eye out for strange, or strangely large, charges.
However, you should also be prepared for a legitimate change in an estimate. Mold removal is not a hard and fast science, and mold may have spread to areas that weren’t identifiable until clean up has actually begun.
Your mold tester can also advise you if removing the outbreak is something you can take care of yourself or if you’ll need to bring in professional mold removers.
If it’s something you can DIY, there are many resources online to guide you through the process. Also, some home improvement stores offer weekend workshops on mold removal.
Importantly, though, unless it is a small, localized case, you’ll likely want to bring in professionals because safe mold removal is much more hazardous and involved than most people realize.
Are You Covered?
It’s also much more expensive than most people realize. If a crew with hazmat suits show up and have to gut your basement or kitchen, it can easily run you $15,000, $25,000, even $40,000 just to remove the mold. And this doesn’t even cover replacing what had to be removed.
So be sure to contact your insurer and determine if you’re covered for the cost of removing the mold and/or rebuilding. The answer may depend on the type of mold involved.
If You Buy the Home
Make sure to follow up on any necessary steps to prevent new cases of mold from returning. These include:
- Inspect and replace caulk around sinks, toilets, showers, etc.
- Keep your gutters clean. Standing water in gutters can leak into eaves and exterior walls.
- Caulk and/or seal your windows.
- Fix any leaks in the roof and under your home. Yes, that means getting up close and personal with your attic and all crawl spaces.
Home mortgages are hard enough to qualify for without the added stress of mold removal. But with some careful research and the help of trained professionals, it can be just one more item to check off on a list.
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